Friday, November 14, 2008

A Rule Against Murder-Louise Penny

A Rule Against Murder
Louise Penny
St. Martin’s, Jan 2009, $24.95
ISBN 9780312377021

Every summer the Gamache’s go on vacation together. This year they stay at the luxurious Manoir Bellechasse in Quebec. Chief Inspector Armand especially loves the getaway with his beloved spouse that gives him time away from criminal activities.

The only other visitors are the Finney brood celebrating a reunion of sorts at the manor. The family matriarch Irene hosts a gala in tribute to her late husband. The highlight of the festivities is the unveiling of a statue in her spouse’s honor in the Manoir’s garden. However, when the statue crumbles off its base it kills one of the middle age adult daughters. Although on vacation, Gamache cannot let it go as an accident; instead he investigates expecting to discover an accident, but instead finds a dysfunctional family who loathe one another. Murder is not out of the question even as the snooty Finney brood insult and scorn the chief inspector for his respectful methodology and worse for his ancestry.

Part of the fun in this Quebec police procedural is the disdainful treatment by the haughty Finney family who assume Gamache is an idiot beneath them socially and intellectually; a sort of loose nod to Colombo. The investigation is top rate enhanced by the obvious flaws of the lead character, his wife (who brings some humor with her not again reaction) and the prime suspects. Fans will enjoy the intelligent and dedicated (this time instead of the Surete insisting obstinate, the Finney brood does) Gamache’s vacation at an isolated resort as he relishes the investigation (see STILL LIFE and THE CRUELEST MONTH).

Harriet Klausner